My medicine cabinet probably looks a lot like yours: analgesics and cold medicines; assorted eye and butt creams (the latter rarely used, of course, and certainly not by me); clippers and cutters; Vaseline and Vicks Vapor Rub; an ear bulb someone might someday need—and where would we be without it?
Once or twice a year, I throw away bottles of pills, drugs that time finished when I couldn’t. Usually they are pain relievers from migraines or back aches or thoracic outlet syndrome. Sometimes they are anti-depressants that I decided against after the second dose, or they’re prescriptions for a misdiagnosed condition. In the last year, I’ve tossed whole bottles of Roxicet, Percocet, Oxycodone, Flexeril, Nortriptyline. Antivert, and Cymbalta. It’s thousands of dollars in pharmaceuticals—useful to some, I’m sure. Too bad there’s no Goodpill Industries. I’d drive up the alley and whisper, “Psssst…yo, Spike, I got the Percs.” If I could drive, that is.
The other day, I met with a surgeon to discuss my laminectomy and discectomy (L5-S1, in case you're new). He asked what I’ve been taking, and I complained that nothing worked, that if I take Percocet, I become a zombie. I’ve got five months worth of sample bottles of Cymbalta. I took it for two days and stood drooling in the grocery store, forgetting which aisles had the foods I buy.
This doctor actually listened to me for a change. He gave me two prescriptions and told me I absolutely must take them.
Before he wrote down the instructions, I told him I didn’t know what it was about prescription drugs in particular. He could tell me to smoke pot or take Quaaludes, Black Beauties, or mushrooms—no problem. But that mean ol’ Roxicet is scary! My mother tried, unsuccessfully, to hide the look of fear and horror (there was no shock) until I reassured her that once I became pregnant, I stopped taking any of those recreational medicinal risks.
She and the doctor were relieved as I waxed poetic over my drug of choice: “delicious beer.” I love the taste of beer, yes. And I love the way two beers make me feel. I’ve often wished someone could invent the two-beer pill—something just relaxing enough but not too mind altering. When you’re a control freak in pain, all you’ve got is your brain, and even that gets hijacked by the suck voice. You tend to agree with everything it says when your cognitive ability is equal to that of oatmeal.
The doc advised me how to take the Neurontin; the hydrocodone was to be taken around the clock, unless I preferred the Percocet, in which case that’s the one I should take around the clock. Whole pills, too, he warned, not the quarters and halves I’ve been taking.
The first morning, I took half a hydrocodone—just to make sure I wouldn't lose my mind. Not much happened, so I took the other half.
I’m a few days late for Thanksgiving shout-outs, but I want to thank the Norco people. I can now cross one item off my list of things to accomplish during my lifetime: Invent or discover the two-beer pill.
Though it hasn't done a whole lot for the pain, I will not be dropping any leftovers into the charity bin.